Queen Celebrates Grocery Milestone

Queen Elizabeth was in Covent Garden this morning to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the grocery chain Sainsbury’s . For this event, which saw the store create a pop-up replica on the site of one of its original stores, the Queen repeated her muted jade straw hat with straight-sided, domed top crown and short cartwheel brim, trimmed with silk flowers and a multi-looped straw bow.

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The colour is beautiful on this design and the textural contrast between the coat and hat makes the two pieces work well together without being matchy or one-note. I’ve always found the crown of this hat block to be a bit clunky but thankfully, the trim flowers and twists are scaled well to match it. The third picture in the first gallery below gives an interesting back view of the hat – not only is the brim trimmed around the back (a common technique on the Queen’s hats, I suspect, to keep the brim off the collar of her coat), the crown top and sides are individually constructed, then sewn together. I suppose that’s the best way to tackle the flared shape of the crown- maybe one of our millinery-trained readers can give some commentary on this?

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Designer: Rachel Trevor Morgan
Previously Worn: May 15, 2018; June 23, 2017

All in all, it’s a lovely hat to wear to do one’s shopping, isn’t it?!

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Photos from Getty as indicated 

21 thoughts on “Queen Celebrates Grocery Milestone

  1. Even though this is a straw hat, could there be a seam in the back? What do you think that dark vertical shadow is in the center of the back? If the hat weren’t straw, it would look as though a piece of fabric had been wrapped around the crown and sewn together in the back. But that doesn’t make sense in this case.
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    • Hi Fairbanks,
      There are three sorts of straw: woven, braided and and braided ribbon. An exemple of braided straw is the Panama hat (actually made in Ecuador) that is hand braided in one piece, starting at the top of the crown and then spreading out towards the brim. Ribbon straw is either hand or machine stitched (round and round) to form a shape, so no straight seam will be visible once it is blocked.
      Sinamay is woven straw. It is 90 cm wide and is sold by the meter. So yes, it will be cut like fabric, then blocked (in two or three layers)and stiffened. The best result is obtained by using a bias cut. The seam at the back may be straight (meaning: cut on the bias) or diagonal (cut on the grain). We have had several interesting discussions on this blog about our preferences for a straight or a diagonal back seam: it is up to each milliner to make a decision as to what is best suited to each shape / material / hat style!

  2. A beautiful spring color for HM, and I always love how much she seems to enjoy herself on these engagements.

    Jimbo, I do like the contrast between hat and trim on the Cardiff hat, but the current one also has much to recommend it. The arrangement of flowers and straw bow are very interesting on this one, though admittedly they would stand out more if they were in a contrasting color. I agree with mcncln that the flowers seem a bit limp this time — hopefully they will be “revived” before the next time this hat appears.

    Thank you so much, Wies, for your photo and explanation of the puzzle block — I should have realized that behind the hat makers there were people who specialized in making the hat blocks!

  3. I love everything about this ensemble, starting with the fresh summery jade color (I’ll call it “sea foam,” since I’m soooo ready for a holiday!) Since all the superlatives have been said, could I offer a wonderful comparison today? I found another RTM jade emsemble – VERY similar, yet so different. Mittenmary, do you like the trim better on the one below from 2016, with its pop of contrasting color? Weis, could both these sea foam hats be from the same block? I actually prefer the one below better, without the sharp edge where the crown’s dome and sides meet. It has a softer look about it.

    June 7, 2016: Cardiff, Wales
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    • Jimbo, they could be made on the same block, although the crown of the “garden party” hat seems slightly higher on one side than the other. But maybe that’s a trick of the light, they certainly are very simular.
      About the softer look: the crown of the “Cardiff” hat is made in one piece, you can see it when you blow up the photo. So there is no seam. The sinamay is covered with a second layer that looks like straw netting and the hat is finished with a high hatband, so any tiny pleats of folds would be covered up very effectively.
      For each hat the milliner has to weigh what techniques to use, depending on the material, the making cost, the occasion and/or the needs of the client.

    • I like this one better too, Jimbo. I think hats look so much more polished when there isn’t a seam between the top and the sides of the crown. But, thanks to Wies’s hat classes here, I now understand why that seam is needed! This shade of green is just beautiful on the queen. Sometimes pastels are a bit washed out for her but this is beautiful.

    • Jimbo, yes, in fact, I DO like the pop of color (or perhaps non-color in this case) for some contrast. And I stand by my comment from that post that I like that it ties to her hair color. As Matthew says, both hats have a lot to recommend them, so I’m not sure I could pick between the two. Perhaps HM feels the same way. But, as I was looking for this post, I found another https://royalhats.net/2016/06/28/british-royals-visit-northern-ireland/ which may or may not be the same color (the photos vary by quite a lot).

    • Hmmmm- Jimbo, you have me perplexed. Yesterday’s hat, I’ve put in the green inventory but the textured straw hat you posted, I’ve classified as turquoise (along with, incidentally, the hat she wore to British Airways HQ today). Should I rethink these classifications?
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  4. So, that makes three beautiful RTM repeats this week. It gives you a sense of both the quality and depth of HM’s millinery wardrobe, doesn’t it? A small quibble: my eye is looking for a little contrast in this one, maybe white flowers instead of the pale jade. And I’d still go the the pale blue from the garden party as my favorite of HM’s repeats this month.

  5. The Queen looks so lovely in these beautiful spring/summery colours … RTM hats are always such a stand out – they look so much more delicate somehow ! … but it’s the smile that really makes her beautiful !

  6. Definitely agree with JamesB, especially about not have matching coat fabric on the hat.

    And thank Wies for the tutorial! I would’ve imagined there was a hat block in this shape, and then the different parts of the sinamay constructed and molded over it before being sewn together, but obviously I’m not a milliner. I also think this sinamay may be reinforced underneath as it doesn’t look to be as see-through as sinamay often can be.

    If only we saw more people dressed like this when grocery shopping!

  7. I love this hat and outfit. The jade colour seems to glow, particularly in the interior shots and the shots taken in the shade. As you say HQ, there is a beautiful interplay of textural contrast between the different materials expressing the same colour.
    I have slight quibble: the 2 flowers look a bit limp, even crushed. Whereas in the 2017 wearing, the flowers look “fresher” and the petals seem to have more curve and lift. My question to readers who know: what’s involved in revitalising silk flowers? – is it difficult to get them to look exactly as they did before, if the flowers have suffered a knock ?

    • That is an easy question Mcncln. The best way to revive silk flowers is to hold them over a steaming kettle. If they are really limp, you might want to take them off the hat, hold them over steam, let them dry and then spray them lightly with hairspray. Then sew them back on again. Presto!

  8. Lovely hat, perfect colour! I agree with you JamesB, the fact that hat and coat are not made of the same material results in a more elegant, summery look.

    As for the technical side: when a crown is flared or in anyway larger at the top than the bottom, it is best to use what is known as a puzzle block. See exemple below of a pillbox shape from British blockmaker Guy Morse Brown.

    In order to get the moulded material of the block, you take out the middle part first and then the other four. Vintage blocks are seldom puzzle blocks and often it is quite hard to get the blocked material of the shape, rather like giving birth with forceps.

    The only way to get a neat surface when stretching sinamay on a flaired crown, is to do it in two parts. If it were done in one, there would be a lot of tiny pleats at the bottom of the crown, impossible to iron out. (To get back to my tea towel exemple: imagine trying to cover a small bucket with a tea cloth without making any folds.) A cheaper ready to wear hat will have pleats, that will be more or less covered up by the hatband and trimming.
    There may be a structure underneath the sinamay made from light buckram or Paris net, to strenghten the the shape.

  9. Still a lovely hat. You’re right, the colour is beautiful, it’s just so light and cheery for summer, and one HM doesn’t often wear. And the fact that the hat isn’t covered in that lovely, but quite busily textured fabric is just right, I wish Angela Kelly would copy that more, it just keeps it lighter and provides contrast without the need for a lot of froof.

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